US President Trump said he supports Colin Kaepernick’s return to the NFL provided the quarterback is up to snuff. Speaking with Scott Thuman, Chief Political Correspondent at the TV station WJLA, Trump said he would love to see Kaepernick get another shot at the kneeling protest against what the athlete once described as the oppression of "black people and people of colour" in the United States.
"If he deserves it, he should. If he has the playing ability, he started off great and then he didn’t end up very great in terms of as a player. He was terrific in his rookie year, I think he was very good in his second year and then something happened. So, his playing wasn’t up to snuff. The answer is – absolutely I would, as far as kneeling [during the US anthem] I would love to see him get another shot, but obviously he has to be able to play well. If he can’t play well, I think it would be very unfair", Trump told Thuman.
The talk about Kaepernick's potential return to the NFL started following massive protests against racial discrimination in the United States, which were sparked by the death of African American George Floyd, who died at the hands of a white police officer. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said it was wrong not to listen to players who protested against racial injustice and urged teams to sign Kaepernick.
The athlete showed an impressive performance in 2012, which gradually worsened over the years due to injuries. He hasn’t played in the NFL since 2016 when he started his kneeling protest against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder", Kaepernick said commenting on his first protest.
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In 2017, the quarterback terminated his contract with the San Francisco 49ers and became a free agent, however teams did not express an interest in him, which led to allegations that he was frozen out by the NFL over his protest and political opinion. That same year Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL accusing its officials of collusion to keep him out of the league. The NFL tried to dismiss the grievance, but failed to do it. Both sides later reached a confidential settlement.
Kaepernick’s protest received a polarised reaction from the public, with opponents saying it showed disrespect for the country. President Trump urged the NFL to fire all players who take part in the action. "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when someone disrespects our flag to say, 'get that son of a b**ch off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired", Trump said in 2017 during a speech in Alabama.
In 2019, the president toned down his criticism of the player and said if he is in good shape NFL teams would sign him, but noted this should not be done as a PR move.
"If he was good enough, they'd hire him. Why wouldn't he play if he was good enough? I think if he's good enough, I know the owners—I know [New England Patriots owner] Robert Kraft, I know so many of the owners—if he's good enough, they'd sign him. So I'd like to see it. Frankly, I'd love to see Kaepernick come in, if he's good enough. But I don't want to see him come in because somebody thinks it's a good PR move”, Trump said.